Institute for Migration & Ethnic Studies

Mission

The research agenda of IMES 2.0

The new IMES seeks to contribute to a budding debate around Mobility as the new paradigmatic perspective in the social sciences, by fostering a dialogue across academic disciplines and promoting intellectual reflexivity. What are the implications for social scientific investigations – in terms of research design and data analysis – when the overall framework is shifting from the sedentary to the mobile? Which types of theories and concepts are analytically effective in studying Mobility?

While we focus on mobility across national borders, and the ensuing processes of migrants’ settlement and the establishment of transnational spaces, we are equally interested in national political and social dynamics that shape and are being shaped by individual states, and that are enacted and contested in local and urban settings.

We recognize the important role of the nation-state as a political organization, yet we seek to avoid the sway of a ‘methodological nationalism’ in migration studies. We strive to study human mobility innovatively by generating analytical categories, which may or may not be in line with formal categories that are used by states in order to study populations and to draft national migration and integration policies. Of major interest to us are local, regional and transnational mobilization that evolve “below” and “above” the state.

Acknowledging the changing nature of a triangulation between territory, sovereignty and citizenship, we study political actions that move to redefine the Gordian knot between national belonging and rights. We pay close attention to the ways in which agile global capital affect national economies and in particular the reconfiguration of labour markets. We encourage studies that examine whether and how political and economic changes – that are related to the increasing presence of all sorts of migrants within national borders – have direct bearings on the democratic characteristics of nation- states around the world.

Here are some of the main research topics which the new IMES will seek to promote:

  • Ways in which seemingly unrelated spheres of public life are coupled within the politics of migration and integration (for example, secularism and sexuality, gender and rights, urban planning and religious diversity).
  • Political and civic participation in times of hyper-mobility.
  • Border crossings and other mobility-related conflicts: their articulation and resolution at local, national and international scales.
  • The criminalization of mobility, and the tensions created between illegal type of mobilities and their social acceptance by segments of the national population.
  • The effects of the global market in generating and accommodating new flows of people and goods.
  • The swing to the far Right in the politics of national migration and integration.
  • Interrogating the relevance and utility of key analytical categories that frame the debate on mobility and migration (class, gender, ethnicity/race, nation, receiving/host society, first/second/third generation of migrants) in historical and comparative perspective.

Published by  IMES

29 July 2012